Kitec Composite Pipe | A Comprehensive Overview

Kitec composite pipe, known for its innovative design and multifaceted applications, has been widely used in plumbing and heating systems. This type of piping system combines the benefits of both metal and plastic pipes, providing a robust solution for a variety of installations. Despite its initial popularity, Kitec composite pipes have faced significant scrutiny over time, leading to a complex narrative of utility, efficiency, and controversy.

What is Kitec Composite Pipe?

Kitec composite pipe is a type of plumbing and heating pipe made from layers of polyethylene and aluminum. It features an aluminum core sandwiched between inner and outer layers of plastic (cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX). This combination was designed to offer the flexibility and corrosion resistance of plastic pipes, along with the strength and durability of metal pipes.

Benefits of Kitec Composite Pipe

  1. Corrosion Resistance: Unlike metal pipes, Kitec pipes are resistant to corrosion and do not react with most chemicals found in water supplies.
  2. Flexibility: The plastic layers make Kitec pipes more flexible than traditional metal pipes, allowing for easier installation, especially in complex plumbing layouts.
  3. Durability: The aluminum layer adds strength and pressure resistance, making the pipes suitable for both hot and cold water applications.
  4. Lightweight: Kitec pipes are lighter than metal pipes, which reduces transportation costs and eases handling during installation.
  5. Thermal Performance: The insulating properties of the plastic layers help in maintaining the temperature of the water, making it energy efficient.

Applications of Kitec Composite Pipe

Kitec pipes were widely used in various applications, including:

  • Residential and Commercial Plumbing: Ideal for water supply lines due to their flexibility and resistance to scaling and corrosion.
  • Radiant Heating Systems: Effective for underfloor heating systems as they can handle high temperatures and pressures.
  • Hot and Cold Water Distribution: Suitable for both hot and cold water applications, maintaining pressure and temperature without significant degradation.

Issues and Controversies

Despite its advantages, Kitec composite pipe has been at the center of various controversies:

  1. Premature Degradation: Reports emerged of Kitec pipes and fittings failing prematurely, sometimes within 10 years of installation. This degradation often led to leaks and water damage.
  2. Corrosion of Fittings: The brass fittings used with Kitec pipes were found to be susceptible to dezincification, a process where zinc leaches out, leading to weakened fittings and leaks.
  3. Legal Challenges: Numerous class-action lawsuits were filed against Kitec’s manufacturers, claiming the pipes and fittings were defective. This led to significant financial settlements and a recall of the product.
  4. Insurance Issues: Some insurance companies began to refuse coverage for homes with Kitec plumbing due to the high risk of failure and associated damage costs.

Current Status and Alternatives

Kitec pipes are no longer manufactured, and many property owners with Kitec systems have opted to replace them due to the risks involved. For those considering alternatives, several options are available:

  1. PEX (Cross-linked Polyethylene): A popular choice for modern plumbing, PEX offers flexibility, ease of installation, and resistance to corrosion without the complications seen with Kitec.
  2. Copper Pipes: Known for their longevity and reliability, copper pipes are a traditional choice, though they are more expensive and less flexible than plastic alternatives.
  3. CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride): Another durable option, CPVC is resistant to heat and corrosion, making it suitable for both hot and cold water applications.
  4. Stainless Steel: Offers excellent durability and resistance to corrosion, though it is typically used in more specialized or high-demand installations due to its cost.

Replacement Considerations

If you have Kitec piping in your property, it’s important to consider the following steps:

  1. Inspection: Regularly inspect the pipes and fittings for signs of corrosion, leaks, or degradation.
  2. Professional Assessment: Engage a qualified plumber to assess the condition of your Kitec system and recommend necessary actions.
  3. Replacement Plan: If replacement is advised, plan for the transition to a more reliable piping system. This might involve significant upfront costs but will prevent future damage and expenses.
  4. Insurance Check: Inform your insurance provider of the existing Kitec system and discuss the implications. Ensure you understand how this affects your coverage.


Kitec composite pipe represented a significant advancement in plumbing technology when it was introduced, combining the best aspects of plastic and metal pipes. However, the issues that arose over time highlighted the complexities and potential pitfalls of new materials in essential systems. As a result, while Kitec pipes offered many benefits, their legacy is marked by the challenges and lessons learned in the pursuit of better plumbing solutions.

For property owners, understanding the history and current status of Kitec pipes is crucial. Whether maintaining an existing system or planning a replacement, informed decisions can help ensure the safety, efficiency, and longevity of plumbing infrastructure.

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